It seems like the many people who ask me for a book recommendation always ask, "have you read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah?" There is the usual amount of raving about how wonderful that book is and how much they loved it. I really liked The Nightingale. But there are also a lot of books I've really liked. This past week I read The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff. I want to tell everyone who read and loved The Nightingale to give this one a try. It's not (yet) getting the press that The Nightingale received, but it is every bit as good.
The story centers around two women, Noa and Astrid during World War II. They are thrown together by necessity, and despite Astrid's dislike for Noa, the two realize they need each other to survive.
Noa was only sixteen when she became pregnant by a Nazi soldier. Her parents refused to let her stay at home, despite the fact that she was forced to give up the baby. When she comes upon a train car full of babies headed to a concentration camp, she takes one, reminded of the baby she lost. Now Noa must find a place where she and a baby can live.
Noa is taken in by the circus. Unable to live for free without earning her keep, she is given to Astrid, an aerialist, who must teach Noa how to perform in just a few short weeks. The flying trapeze is a difficult act to learn, but in order to survive Noa must trust Astrid to catch her each time she lets go.
The circus is struggling through the war as it falls under suspicion several times for harboring Jews. When Noa realizes what this could mean for her, she must determine how powerful her friendship is with Astrid.
This is a beautiful novel of friendship, of devastation and loss, of the tragedy of World War II. Jenoff's novel should appeal to fans of Kristin Hannah, book clubs, women's fiction readers, and anyone who enjoys historical fiction.